My compost heap is crawling with woodlice and contains loads of their eggs. Is it OK to use it like that or should I try and get rid of them first? If so, what's the best way to control them?


  • sallyat6sallyat6 Posts: 6

    Thanks - I worry that when I'm planting a new plant, putting in compost full of woodlice might not be the best start for it? Do they est the roots?

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Hi Sally. Think Verdun's right -they're really only a nuisance if they're in the house. They're very useful in the garden as they help with decomposition but they don't eat 'live' material only decaying as far as I'm aware.image

  • sallyat6sallyat6 Posts: 6

    That's good news - I prefer to let things be where possible.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Leave them alone. They are one of the primary movers in the compost world. They eat decayed or decaying matter and help break it down into the nice crumbly stuff that we like to spread on our soil. Their teeth are not strong enough to eat anything but very soft green material or as said, half decayed stuff. They love dark damp places. Only time they might be a nuisance is if you have lots of them where there is not enough food and they then attack seedlings.

    If you have them where you do not want them then the answer is to clear out any rubbish plant material and let in the light. Talcum powder will stop them as they find it difficult to cross it.

    Finally if you really have huge numbers then, fried in butter they are supposed to taste like shrimps.

  • sallyat6sallyat6 Posts: 6

    Thanks for the advice, I'll give it a try (letting in the light not frying in butter).

  • Boo Boo 1Boo Boo 1 Posts: 1
    Was concerned that they were spoiling my compost... Sobthis us all good news. image
  • CeresCeres Posts: 1,492

    Woodlice seem to be part of the composting process. They take over when the heap has rotted down quite a bit and the worms and slugs have moved on to the newest heap.

  • sanjy67sanjy67 Posts: 1,007

    i was just going to write a post asking about them, as i have thousands it seems, i took a scoopful out of the strawberry bed last night as they are partial to strawberry fruits but not much else apart from dead stuff but they are everywhere it seems. i'm not really liking them being in the soil, under everything, they give me the heeby geebies. It's true they do taste like shrimps although i haven't eaten them i'm just going on what i have read. ive just been out in the garden and while moving a brick to catch a giant slug, hundreds came out, i scare myself sometimes hahaha they are all over my wall too. I keep the garden clear of leaves etc but they do seem to like the leaf mulch ive put in the strawberry bed so i think i'll get rid of that image

  • Oooh I wonder if anyone here has actually fried them with butter... I would have thought they might taste a bit muddy, though I have no intention of finding outimage 

    Sanjy67 I have tried using diatomous earth around my strawberry this year as the woodlice devoured last years crop.  Crop rotation is said to help so I moved them last year, and cleared the area of old bits of wood and things to hide under too, fingers crossed. I am unsure if to use straw this year though as it may encourage them... decisions decisions (the straw is in the shed) image

  • sanjy67sanjy67 Posts: 1,007

    hi lms, what is diatomous earth in a nutshell, i have actually moved the strawberries this year in a new planter up higher as my dog ralph kept eating them all lol, have cleared most of the leaf mould out but i'll give it another go tomorrow, there is quite a lot of manure in there aswell so maybe they like that too .....huff image

  • It's a natural powder made from fossilised remains of  diatoms, I spelt if wrong in that post but here's a link...


    It's safe for pets and in fact the food grade is a natural dog wormer... oh but we must not breath it in!

  • sanjy67sanjy67 Posts: 1,007

    thank you image

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Sanjy. The woodlice do not have the strength of teeth to eat an undamaged strawberry. They are secondary problem. They like the dampness of the inside of the fruit, but they can only get in when something else has made a hole for them. I would be looking more for snails or slugs or blackbirds as the primary culprits. Deal with them and the woodlice will not be a worry.

  • Hello,

    A bit late to the party but I just wanted to add my two cents :

    As others have said, woodlice are generally decomposers and rarely harm plants. I actually have pet woodlice (a complement to my pet snails), and when I attempted to grow little plants in the vivarium for them to chew on they completely ignored them!

    I am not surprised that they would taste like shrimp as they are in fact crustaceans - relatives of shrimp and lobster. If my memory serves right they're the only group of land-dwelling crustaceans. This is in part why they love humidity (they still need it to live). 

    The main point that struck me was when you mentioned the eggs. I am no woodlice expert so I could be wrong, but all the species that I know of actually carry their eggs and young with them in a belly pouch. They stay with the mother until they're a bit grown up, and only then do they leave and start crawling about.
    Either you have some species of woodlice I don't know about, or those eggs are from something else.

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